ABOUT Claudia & Leon, 'The Bittenbysharks Dream team':
Incessant travellers and modern nomads
Acclaimed underwater imaging gurus Motivational travel writers Inspirational scuba instructors Un-matched in hospitality and customer service
Specialist luxury resort operators Experts in extraordinary dream destination travel Pioneers in Raja Ampat exploration We firmly believe in providing unsurpassed levels of personalised service, by constantly exceeding expectations.
and YES! - we were bothbitten by sharks:
We worked with sharks in the Bahamas every day, for almost seven years straight. The scenes that you see involving sharks in movies, commercials, documentaries and TV shows, must be carefully orchestrated and require a combination of experience, guts, nerves of steel and specialized skills in shark handling and underwater imaging. Being perfectly at ease working behind and in front of the camera, more often than not, for those seven years, we could be found working in the midst of forty+ swirling sharks, each of them jostling and bumping for position.
CLAUDIA'S STORY: During a photo shoot, a shark got hold of my left hand; I was not wearing my usual chainmail gloves, and had the presence of mind not to rip my hand back, since I instinctively knew that the serrated teeth would slice through like butter; so, instead, I let the shark take me for a little swim until she realized that I was not part of her food chain, and promptly let go. It took a couple of operations, and an uncountable amount of stitches to re-attach a tendon and patch the hand back together, as well as months of painstaking therapy; but hey - my hand still works!
3 months later...
LEON'S STORY: I was working amongst some rowdy sharks one morning, in full chainmail regalia, when a shark got its teeth stuck in my chainmail glove, and instinctively thrashed and twisted like a crocodile to get free. The arm was broken in seven places, with two nerves severed. After two lengthy operations and 10 excruciating months of therapy, I was fortunate to recover 60-70% use of my arm. It turns out that had I been evacuated to the USA that fateful day, I would automatically have been an amputation candidate!
Shortly after both incidents, we met marine artist Dominique Serafini, who was once the illustrator for Jacques Cousteau on the Calypso back in the day, and while we told him our tales, inspired by the moment, he grabbed pencil and paper and began to sketch furiously. He presented us with a cartoon, which has since evolved
We formed Bittenbysharks.com primarily as a way to showcase our humble attempts to capture the power and magnificence of the world’s oceans, as a way to draw the world’s attention, to educate and inspire others.
Since then, Bittenbysharks evolved to specialise in three areas:
stimulating them to respect and protect the bounty of the world’s oceans.
We work with you side by side to make your underwater imaging dreams come true!
Bittenbysharks Expeditions tend to veer off the beaten path, specialising in 'ultra' destinations
offering unsurpassed spectacle, in combination with our signature un-rivalled hospitality and customer
service. When we tailor expeditions, we team up strictly with our preferred operators in order to ensure unforgettable once in a lifetime experiences!
Bittenbysharks Services arose out of a necessity to add value to the very operations we had been teaming up with for our expeditions. Via interim management and specialised marketing, we were able to add immense value and boost product credibility which was mutually beneficial to both parties. We had the clientele and the expertise, they had the location. Win Win. Through the years, this has involved setting up and marketing to kickstart a remote island resort from scratch, interim management of a flailing legendary remote resort with special focus on service delivery and turnaround strategy, and using our creative flair and skill with imaging and marketing to work our magic on existing high end operations. Immensely satisfying - we have enjoyed every minute.
For many years our work has based us in South East Asia, and for many years we have
specialised in The Raja Ampat, the epicenter of marine biodiversity on earth. Until our last breath, we will hold the
Papuan people near to our hearts, and we will always do what we can to protect their legacy.
They say a scar is but a tattoo with a story, and indeed, the sharks left us each with a good story
and a substantial scar as a constant living reminder. We bear no grudge.
Their teeth touched more than mere skin and bone, and somewhere in between, the sharks connected with us
both making us fiercely protective of the ocean’s bounty.
Every so often, we subconsciously rub our scars, and we remember.
Lest we forget. The ocean, a world of blue, is increasingly in need of our help.
We dedicate ourselves and our imagery, to doing everything we can to make a difference in our lifetime...
Working in the Bahamas with sharks: short video
Having travelled the globe for 10 years and learned everything they possibly could about the hospitality industry as crew for their national airline,Claudia Pellarini-Joubert and Leon Joubert, based themselves in the Bahamas for almost 7 years, where they were managers at the famous Stuart Cove's in Nassau, starting the journey towards becoming professional underwater photographers and ending up as experienced M.s.d.t PADI Instructors / SDI Instructors and Instructor Trainers. Mentored by Stuart and Michelle Cove, they were inspired to learn everything they could about the underwater business, which included diving, snorkelling, watersports, underwater imaging - not to mention Underwater Hollywood.
Within the first year, Claudia was promoted to Resident Photo Pro and became Manager of the now famous Fin Photo Center, where she took on the digital learning curve with a vengeance, laying the foundations and turning a small underwater photo and video center into arguably one of the most progressive of it's kind in the world. Within the first year, Leon was promoted to Manager of the exclusive Lyford Cay Watersports, in a private country club catering to the rich and famous.
In this period they played host to and trained several movie stars, amongst them Salma Hayek, Josh Lucas, Mia Maestro, Scott Caan, Paul Walker, WoodyHarrelson, Jessica Alba and Pierce Brosnan as well as famous personalities such as Nigel Marven, HRH Princess Michael of Kent, Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs, the Mythbusters, Phil Keoghan of the Amazing Race, The Olsen Twins , Penn & Tellerand many more.
On a daily basis, Claudia and Leon could be found underwater, working in the midst of 40+swirling sharks. Simultaneously they worked on an endless stream of underwater productions, ranging from feature films such as After the Sunset, Into the Blue, Pirates of the Caribbean, Casino Royale, Holiday in the Sun, to IMAX films such as Ocean Men, commercials for Hyundai, Rolex, Playstation, Sony, CFA and Discovery Channel, as well as documentaries, reality shows and talk shows.
Claudia's footage has been broadcast on several major international networks such as Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic Channel, The BBC, MTV, RAI 2, RSN, Fuji TV, Mens HD Channel, Canale J, Russian TV, TNT, ESPN, Global TV Network, Canada TV, Independent Television UK, The Living Channel, GermanTV, the Tony Danza Show, Regis & Kelly LIVE and Oprah. Their images, articles and cover features have been published in a variety of international media, tourism travel and dive publications, including Ocean Realm USA, Scuba Diving USA, Welcome Bahamas, What to do Bahamas, LEO magazine Switzerland, Sport Diver UK, Marine Diving Japan, Diver UK, The Hilton Executive, TV Guide USA, Divestyle SA and Submerge SA, Prestige Magazine SA, Getaway Magazine SA, Express Air Magazine Indonesia, Islands Magazine USA, Scuba Diving Australasia, Reef Life guide to Marine life, The Art of Underwater Photography and most recently: The Raja Ampat through the lens of....
When they shoot underwater , they use only the best: Nikon cameras housed in SEACAM, and video cameras housed in GATES.
Currently Claudia and Leon dive exclusively in Indonesia, on the reefs of the Raja Ampat & the Bird's Head Peninsula of Papua, an area that scientists have proclaimed the 'bulls-eye of marine biodiversity'. They continue to combine their extensive hospitality experience with their intense years of underwater imaging experience as well as their combined 11 000+ dives, to offer the best value for expeditions, workshops in underwater imaging and interim management of operations in the area. Benefit from their experience, expert instruction and expert advice, during these amazing and thoroughly enjoyable adventures.
Claudia Pellarini: BA HONS Pol Sc, English, French, Italian, Afrikaans, Basic Indonesian, Basic Portuguese; PADI MSDT; SDI Instructor; Professional Underwater Photographer and Videographer
Leon Joubert: English, Afrikaans, Indonesian; PADI MSDT; SDI Instructor Trainer; Professional UW Photographer and Videographer
CLAUDIA & LEON UNDERWATER PRODUCTIONS CREDIT LIST:
Magazine USA 2006 ‘What the Pro’s shoot’
Hilton Executive Magazine (2006)
Ocean Realm Magazine (2005)
National Geographic ‘Bahamian Sharks’ (2005, Brian Skerry Photographic)
Film Zone Magazine UK (2005)
Storm Case Brochure(2005, Stephen Frink Photography)
Rolex (2004, Stephen Frink Photography)
Jon’ DVD(2004, Status Productions)
Sport Diver UK ‘Wrecks of the Caribbean’ (2004,John Mc Intyre)
Syngenta –(2003, Jamie Stillings
Scubapro Catalogue (2002)
The Fashion Magazine ‘Carmen Kass’ ( 2001)
Celebrity Divers & Students
Hayek, Josh Lucas, Mia Maestro, Woody Harrelson, Barbara Mandrell, Jessica
Alba, Paul Walker, Scott Caan, Josh Brolin, Bill Wrigley, Heidi Klum, Natalie
Imbruglia, Ashley Scott, Pierce Brosnan, Princess Michael of Kent, Phil
Keoghan, Tiger Woods, Josh Hartnett, William Lee Scott, JimBelushi, Nick Cannon, Mary Kate &
Ashley Olsen, Kelly Ripa, Carmen Kass, Eva Green